The Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

August 21, 2019 |

The Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

Surprisingly, the answer to when is the best time to visit South Africa and the best time to visit South America is exactly the same. 

It depends on where, specifically, you want to go within these vast, beautiful and diverse continents. The best time to visit South Africa or South America depends as well on what you want to do while you are there.


Is going on an African safari one of your lifelong dreams?

Our experienced travel advisors will tell you that the best months, generally speaking, for an African safari are September through October and March through April when temperatures aren’t quite so hot. 


Have you always wanted to celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro?

If so, then the best time to visit Brazil is late February, when the famous festival is held. 

Whether you’re trying to find the best time to go to Africa or the best time to visit South America, the first step is to narrow down which country or countries, in particular, you want to visit. 


Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

As we’ve covered, there’s no one best time to visit Africa or South America. Working with an experienced travel advisor is a great way to make sure you take your vacation at the ideal time. 

Our travel advisors have taken safaris and traveled throughout South America. They travel extensively so they can draw on firsthand experience to help you plan your dream vacation. They know not only the best time to go on an African safari but also the best places to take them. They also know the best time to visit South America, in part because they’ve been there, and in part, because they’ve been helping people plan dream vacations for decades. 

Here are some of their recommendations on the best time to visit South America and the best time to visit Africa:

  • Best time to visit South Africa: While South Africa is a year-round destination, like the rest of the continent, its seasons are opposite of North America’s. Fall is March through May and spring is September through November. The best time to visit South Africa comes down to what you want to do while you are there.
  • Best time to go on an African safari: Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia are all popular places to go on an African safari, but when you go makes a difference in what kind and how many animals you’ll see. August through October tend to be productive months, but working with an experienced travel advisor is the best way to narrow down the exact location and time to see the kind of animals you most want to observe.
  • Best time to see Zimbabwe: If you love wildflowers and want to take in all the flora Zimbabwe has to offer, December to May are the best months to visit.
  • Best time to visit Brazil: Outside of late February, which is the time to go to the Rio Carnival, best times to visit Brazil include April to June and August to October, when the weather tends to be cooler.
  • Best time to see Peru: The best time to see Peru is during its dry season, which is May through September, especially if you’d like to hike Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail. December to March can also be fun but will include frequent rain showers.
  • Best time to go to Argentina: Like South Africa, Argentina is a year-round destination. Winter is in July and August and features the coolest weather, however, it also tends to be most crowded then. Working with a travel advisor to plan your trip will ensure you get the most out of your vacation to Argentina.


Best Places to Visit in Africa and South America

Knowing when to go on an African safari is only one part of planning your dream vacation. Working with an experienced travel advisor is the best and easiest way to assemble an itinerary that fits your interests. Our travel advisors would love to help you explore the best that Africa and South America have to offer.

Contact one of our experienced travel advisors today to turn your dream South American vacation or African safari into a reality.

The Best Time to Visit Singapore and Other Asia Pacific Hot Spots

August 13, 2019 |

What’s the Best Time to Visit Singapore?

Any experienced travel advisor will tell you that the best time to visit Singapore and other Asia Pacific hot spots is during the dry season. That season may vary depending on which countries you visit. Literal southeast Asian hot spots like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are driest in November through February.

While it’s generally an all-year-round destination, the best time to go to Singapore is February through April. Other countries, such as island nations like Indonesia and Japan, are best seen in April through October and March through May, respectively.

All of this variance highlights the reality that the best time to visit Asia depends on where in Asia you want to go.


Best Time to Visit Singapore and Other Asia Pacific Destinations

As we’ve covered, there’s no one best time to visit Asia, at least not all of it. Working with an experienced travel advisor is a great way to make sure you take your vacation to Asia at the ideal time. 

Our travel advisors have journeyed extensively throughout Asia and know not only the best places to visit in Asia, but also the best times to see them. Here are our recommendations on the best time to visit Southeast Asia popular destinations:

  • Best time to go to Singapore: Really, any time is a good time to visit Singapore, but February through April tends to be a little drier.
  • Best time to visit Bali: Like many other places in southeast Asia, Bali has only two seasons — rainy and dry. April and October tend to be drier months, and therefore better times to visit.
  • Best time to see Japan: If you want to see Japan’s famed cherry trees in full blossom, the end of April is the best time to visit. Other excellent months include spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).
  • Best time to travel to Cambodia: Humidity can get quite high in Cambodia. Visiting during the drier months of November through April should bring some relief.
  • Best time to visit the Maldives: The best time to visit this island paradise is between December and April when it’s less likely to experience storms or adverse weather.
  • Best time to go to Tibet: Pleasant weather and warm, gentle breezes are typical of April through October in Tibet, so plan to visit then.


Best Places to Visit in Asia

Knowing when to go to Asia is only one facet of planning a vacation. Working with an experienced travel advisor is the best and easiest way to plan an itinerary that is both realistic and checks off all your boxes. Our travel advisors would love to help you explore the best food, hotels and sights in the best places to visit in Asia.

Contact one of our experienced travel advisors today to turn your dream vacation to Asia into a reality!

European Vacation 101: How a Travel Advisor Can Help You Plan a Trip to Europe

August 7, 2019 |

European Vacation 101: How to Plan a Trip to Europe

A European vacation is a dream for many travelers. Making that dream come true often comes down to proper planning, which is made much easier with the help of an experienced travel advisor. 

If you’re ready to embark on a European vacation, you likely have questions, such as when to go to Europe or how to plan a European vacation. Our travel advisors love helping people enjoy unforgettable European vacations. Here, we cover a few reasons for using our travel advisors to help plan a trip to Europe.


How to Plan a Trip to Europe — 5 Reasons to Work with a Travel Advisor

Traveling to Europe for the first time can feel overwhelming. Going into your trip prepared helps you avoid decisions that might detract from your enjoyment. Our travel advisors have spent years planning dream vacations to Europe for many travelers and know all the ins and outs of traveling to Europe. 

From knowing when to go to Europe to whether or not to take a cab from the airport and more, our advisors know how to make your European vacation a success. Here are five things we help travelers to Europe with every day. 


1. Our travel advisors help you decide where to go.

One of the most important factors in planning a trip to Europe is deciding where to go. Many of our advisors have traveled to Europe themselves and can make personal recommendations about cities and sights you’ll love.


2. Our travel advisors know when to go to Europe.

While you can go to Europe any time of year, we know that the best times to take a European vacation are in May, June and September, because prices tend to be more reasonable, weather is a bit better and crowds are thinner. These factors make those months an ideal time for a European vacation.


3. Our advisors tailor an itinerary to your personal priorities.

Based on what you want to see, our advisors put together a detailed itinerary with the ideal places to start and finish your trip as well as all the stops in between. With the perfect itinerary mapped out for you by an experienced advisor, you can relax knowing you’ll love every moment of a trip that has been tailored to your interests and priorities.


4. Our advisors make sure your passport and/or visa are valid.

Getting paperwork in order is one of the least glamorous aspects of planning a trip to Europe, but without the proper documents, your European vacation will never happen. Our travel advisors know that if you don’t have a passport, you need to allow four to six weeks from the time you apply to receive one and help you apply at the proper time. We’ll also check the expiration date of your passport or Visa to ensure it will still be valid during the time of your trip to Europe and, depending on which countries you visit, for at least six months after your trip is over.


5. Our advisors know when to recommend travel insurance.

While you might be tempted to write off travel insurance for your trip to Europe, our advisors know when it’s worth a second look. They help you see whether trip cancellation, flight cancellation or medical insurance makes sense for your trip. 


This list barely scratches the surface of the considerations involved in planning a trip to Europe. Get expert insight and care planning your European vacation. Let our travel advisors help you plan the trip of a lifetime!

What Fam Trips Are and How They Help Us Make Your Vacation Even More Amazing

July 31, 2019 |

What Fam Trips Are and How They Help Us Make Your Vacation Even More Amazing

Fam trips are one of the best ways for travel advisors to become more proficient in the field of travel. Fam trips, or familiarization trips, can be excellent opportunities for those who plan travel for others to get to know what various cruise, hotel, spa and flight experiences are like so they can make more educated recommendations to travelers. 

Far from a ‘free vacation,’’ fam trips are a lot of work, often involving long days and little free time. However, as our seasoned travel advisors understand, there’s simply no substitute for firsthand experience when it comes to travel planning. We send our travel advisors on fam trips so they gain the experience to make yours amazing.

Here’s what a few of our advisors have to say about what fam trips are and how they help them plan amazing vacations for others.


Fam Trips: How They Help Travel Advisors Plan Amazing Vacations

When travel advisors go on fam trips, they usually inspect every aspect of the experience so they can explain it to potential travelers and make recommendations based on the needs and interests of each person they help.

We asked two of our top travel advisors, Abby Bebout and Jenny Gilbertson, what they like about fam trips and what makes them worth the investment. 

“Fam trips allow advisors to experience what the client experiences when they travel,” says Bebout. “You tour properties to learn the ins and outs and sometimes even the behind-the-scenes, but you also experience the same food, service and amenities that a client would experience when traveling to that destination.”

Gilbertson adds that fam trips can help advisors improve the service they offer travelers. “Firsthand experience is the best way to learn the geography/location of the destination. After visiting a destination, it’s much easier to make satisfying recommendations.”

Cruise and resort fam trips are some of the best to take at improving the recommendations travel advisors can make because they allow advisors to experience the intricacies of those types of travel.

“Cruise and resort fams allow us to make a recommendation of what to do, where to go and how best to experience a specific ship or resort,” says Bebout. “Everything from being able to make a recommendation on what to order at the restaurants to who the best bartender is, or where to sit at the show for the best view are things that we experience during fam trips and can give feedback on first-hand.”

Gilbertson agrees, adding that seminars at sea provide an abundance of information on the cruising experience that can’t be gained any other way. “We usually tour the entire vessel as well as receive shore excursion information (and enjoy them like the travelers we help would), marketing ideas and the most current updates of the cruise line.”


What to Look for in a Fam Trip

Once travel advisors see the value in a fam trip, the next question becomes which fam trip to take. Our advisors say a good place to start is with places or experiences travelers are likely to desire or inquire about. 

“I like to experience fam trips based on what I sell and what is going to be beneficial to my clients,” says Bebout. “I would love to take every trip offered, but am I selling that destination or product? True experts are selective in what they choose to do and qualify trips based on experiences that will benefit those for whom they help plan vacations.” 

Gilbertson adds that small group fam trips or trips to places an advisor would not personally go can be beneficial. 

“I always look for a fam trip where I’ll experience what my clients look forward to. My idea of a fam trip is definitely NOT seeing ten properties in a day; visiting one to two with ‘experiences’ is what it’s all about,” she says. “Some of the most memorable fam trips I’ve experienced were an Azamara cruise from Barcelona to Roma and a visit to the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.”

Travel advisors can maximize the value of fam trips by paying careful attention to specific things. “Take note of what’s included in the price, what transportation is provided and unique experiences you can share with clients upon return,” says Gilbertson. 

Bebout adds that being careful to evaluate everything will help advisors gain the most value from fam trips. “Keep track of what the flights were like and how the arrival process could have been easier. I can take a picture, but it’s likely the same picture that you can find online. What you can’t get from the website is how the service was at the resort. Another important thing to look at is room locations. What is the view like? Is there privacy? How close is the room next door? These are notes that a good advisor is taking to be sure they have all the information to pass along to colleagues and clients alike.”


Need help planning your next vacation?

Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you plan the perfect getaway. Reach out to us today!

5 Educational Vacations for Families

July 24, 2019 |

5 Educational Vacations for Families

Educational vacations help families learn while traveling. Some of the best learning is done when you can get out and explore areas of interest. If family travel means more to you than theme parks and relaxing, explore these five educational vacation destinations.


5 Educational Vacations for Families

The educational vacation destinations listed here will satisfy your craving for experiencing new and different people and places. Instead of exploring the world through a screen, you’ll get up close and personal with real life in different settings around the world.


1. Rome, Italy.

Rome, Italy | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

If ancient history interests you, family travel to Rome may be the best educational vacation destination for you. The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Pompeii are just a few of the historic sites your family will enjoy visiting in Rome.


2. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg, VA | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

If you’re more of an American History buff, you’ll love visiting Colonial Williamsburg. A living museum that lets you experience life in 18th century America is just one of the things that makes this one of the best educational vacations for families. 


3. London, England.

London, England | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

Dive into the culture of the country that spawned America with an educational vacation to London. Tour classic sites like the Tower of London and Parliament Building, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or Churchill War Rooms. Whether you see a show on London’s West End or take a Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, there’s plenty of magic to experience in London.


4. Iceland.

Iceland | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

Revisit the ancient world of the Vikings with an educational trip to Iceland. See an exact replica of a Viking ship; go whale watching; visit Thingvellir Park, home to the first Parliament; and experience the captivating power of significant geological sites like Gulfoss and Langjokull, home to an amazing ice cave and Europe’s second-largest glacier.


5. Paris, France.

Paris, France | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

From well-known landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Louvre Museum, Sorbonne and Arc de Triomphe, there is more to see in Paris than can be squeezed into one educational vacation. Take your family to Paris and experience the sites that interest you most for your next family vacation.


Why We Plan Educational Vacations

Educational vacations are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a place. Whether you partake in a culinary tour of Paris, go on a guided hike through an ice cave in Langjokull or decide to explore a destination not listed here, family travel is made better, not worse, with an educational vacation. 

Let our travel advisors help you plan the perfect family vacation. Reach out now to discuss your next educational vacation.

Planning a Family Vacation?

July 17, 2019 |

Planning a Family Vacation? Our Advisors Share Top Tips

Travel Advisors Share What to Pack and How to Plan a Family Vacation

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to planning a family vacation. What should I pack? Where should I go? Is an international family vacation possible? These are all common questions travelers ask. Our travel advisors have decades of experience helping families plan unforgettable vacations. 

We asked them to share their best tips on planning a family vacation with you. Here’s what they had to say.


Travel Advisors Answer Questions About Planning a Family Vacation

What do I pack?

What to pack is one of the most common questions travel advisors are asked by people planning a family vacation. Tara Nielsen-Rise, a travel advisor out of Omaha, says to be comfortable and practical.

“Don’t bring new shoes you’ve never worn. Be sure to keep things to do and snacks in your carry-on when flying,” she says. “Planes can be chilly so throw something in the carry on to accommodate for that if needed. If you’re going somewhere warm, bring a couple of swimsuits. You will likely get in and out of the water during the day and it gives one suit a chance to dry.”

Emily Voorn, a travel advisor with experience planning family vacations adds that it’s important to keep the climate in mind. “Packing changes depending on what season you are traveling in and what the weather will be like there. As soon as I help families pick a date and destination, I start researching what to pack.”


How do I decide where to go?

As Voorn alludes to above, figuring out the best destinations for a family vacation can be a tricky process. She likes to start answering that question with a question. 

“I like to ask people to ponder their interests,” she says. “If you are looking for sunny weather, Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in California offer some really great fun in the sun family packages. If you want something outside the norm, the Caribbean Islands offer some all-inclusive family options worth looking at. The Bahamas and Punta Cana are both appealing destinations.”


What if I want to plan an international family vacation? What do I need to know before I go?

Another common question is around planning an international family vacation. Nielsen-Rise says not to overlook the obvious, but important point. “Everyone will need a passport. Some destinations require visas and/or vaccinations.”

Voorn backs that up, adding to make sure visas and passports have an expiration date of at least six months past your planned return date. “It’s good to make photocopies of your passport, in case you lose them in travel and need to apply for new ones at a U.S. embassy.” Voorn also recommends visiting the State Department’s website to check for travel advisements or restrictions for the countries you’re visiting.

“Before you go, check the State Department’s website for information about vaccinations and travel permits. If both legal parents aren’t traveling, you may need authorization from the absent parent.”


Do I need travel insurance?

The question of travel insurance often comes up around visas and passports. It’s an important one, which Nielsen-Rise often answers, ‘yes.’ 

“You never know what could happen prior to, or during travel,” she says. “If you are traveling internationally, many U.S. health insurance companies don’t cover you so the medical coverage alone is worth it.”

Voorn adds that travel insurance can guard against many unforeseen events. “The benefits of protecting your investment would be highly recommended as most insurance policies have a cancel-for-any-reason clause and when you’re planning a year or more into the future, you can never predict what is going to come up.”

After all their years helping plan family vacations, our travel advisors say they’ve seen a handful of things get overlooked time and again.

“We’re all ambitious when we plan a family vacation,” says Nielsen-Rise. “Don’t try to cram too many things into your itinerary. Part of the fun for kids can simply be swimming at the hotel. If the schedule gets too full, the vacation becomes more about checking things off a list than just sitting back and enjoying the moment. Quality over quantity can never be underestimated.”  


Are you planning a family vacation?

Don’t plan it alone! Get expert insight from our experienced travel advisors on picking the perfect destination and itinerary. Let us iron out all the details for your next family vacation. Contact us now to get started.

Flying with Kids? Survive Your Trip with These Tips

July 10, 2019 |

Flying with Kids? Survive Your Trip with These Tips

Flying with kids can be rough. Toddlers are about as unpredictable as airline travel. Still, following these tips for flying with kids will make your journey more enjoyable. 


Tips for Flying with Kids

Whether you’re traveling with a toddler prone to surprise sprints across the airport or flying with children who hate leaving home, there are a few tips you can follow to make your trip a little less painful. Here are our best tips for flying with kids!


Make it Fun

This tip may be hard to implement if you hate flying, but aside from that, if you make flying fun, chances are good your child will find it fun too. Talk about your travel beforehand and all the fun you’ll have flying. Kids often find amusement in simple things, so don’t be afraid to talk up the snacks and drinks on the plane. 


Don’t Worry About Screentime

Especially for older kids, if you are typically judicious about how much screen time you allow your children to enjoy at home, they will find hours of entertainment in getting to plug in on their flights. Once the pilot gives the green light for turning on portable devices, bust yours out and let your kids play games or watch TV. Don’t forget the headphones so other travelers don’t have to play along with your kids.


Throw Routine Out the Window

Along with the above tip, don’t stress over your normal routines flexing a bit during travel. If your child wants to take a nap off-schedule or stay up when she’s normally sleeping, roll with it. Focus on getting from A to B with as little fight as possible. Besides, he may have trouble sleeping when you arrive at your destination, and if he’s able to snooze a bit on the plane, you’ll be thankful for it. 


Bring Plenty to Do (and Eat)

Along with tablets and devices, one of the best tips for flying with kids is to pack some snacks, books, coloring pages and other quiet activities to help your child pass the time.  


Pack Extra Clothes for Everyone

You never know when an accident is going to happen. Sometimes a clean shirt or pair of shorts can make mom and dad, as well as your little ones, feel a lot better. When you’re packing an extra outfit for your kids, remember to throw in an extra shirt for yourself. 


Put a Tag on That

When you’re busy putting tags on your bags at home or when you arrive at the airport, don’t overlook putting a digital tag on your child. Bluetooth tracker tags make it possible for you to know the exact location of your bags and your kids. While you never want to become separated from your child, knowing you can look at your smartphone and see where she is will bring much-needed peace of mind. 

Looking for more help flying with kids or planning your next vacation? Our travel advisors are here to help! Reach out today for assistance with your next adventure.

Best Family Vacation Spots for Your Entire Clan

July 3, 2019 |

Best Family Vacations — 4 Top Spots for Your Next Trip

The best family vacations are ones where everyone from grandma to junior come home happy. Finding the best family vacation spots can be tricky, so we’re serving up some of the top family vacation ideas for you to consider as you think through your upcoming trip. 


Best Family Vacations — 4 Top Spots for Your Next Trip

Family vacations are wonderful opportunities to make lifelong memories. Whether or not those memories will be happy ones sometimes comes down to picking the best family vacation spots. With decades of experience helping families find the perfect backdrop for making happy memories together, we’ve put together a list of some of the top spots for your next trip.


1. Yellowstone National Park, WY

Yellowstone National Park, WY | Best Family Vacations

While everyone else is flinging sweaty elbows at each other in line for rides at Walt Disney World, escape the chaos and rejuvenate your souls connecting with nature at Yellowstone National Park. There’s nothing like watching Old Faithful erupt or seeing magnificent wildlife up close and in living color. Whether you want to rough it in a tent or enjoy nature from the comfort of a cabin, you’ll find plenty for the entire family to enjoy at this American gem.


2. San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA | Best Family Vacations

America’s finest city may have earned that moniker for its beautiful beaches, but its cuisine, growing arts scene and proximity to Los Angeles make it one of the best family vacation spots for your next trip. Whether you want to learn to surf or sunbathe on the beach, you can do it all in sunny San Diego. From its world-famous zoo to its equally famous fish tacos, you’ll have fun making memories together here. 


3. Gatlinburg, TN

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, this town feels like it was made for families. From hikes of all difficulty levels to amusement parks and aquariums, there’s much here for people of all ages to enjoy. Spend one day browsing artisan shops, watching hand-blown glass take shape and then spend another drinking in the beauty of the outdoors.


4. Honolulu, HI

Do you want to feel like you’re exploring a tropical escape without needing a passport? Hawaii could be the perfect spot for your clan. Some of the best family vacations are had in Oahu. With an endless stream of things to do and see, just make sure you stop and spend some time feeling the sand between your toes. 

Want help planning your next family vacation? Our travel advisors have more amazing ideas for you to consider. Let us help you plan a vacation every member of your family will enjoy.

12 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Your Next Trip

June 26, 2019 |

14 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Your Next Trip

The best travel apps help you make the most of every trip by simplifying currency exchanges, flying, packing, payment and understanding the local languages and cultures of your destinations.

Here are 14 of our favorite travel apps and what makes them so essential to enjoying your next vacation.


14 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Your Next Trip

The joy of travel is exploring new places, savoring new dishes, meeting fascinating people and embarking on unforgettable adventures. Your smartphone is the key to unlocking more wonder on your next trip. By simplifying packing, payment and everything in between, the best travel apps on your smartphone free you to do more savoring, exploring and delighting.

Here are 14 of the best travel apps to make your next trip easier to enjoy.


1. TripLingo The ultimate tool for international travelers, this app helps you learn essential phrases (including slang) in the local languages of the countries you visit. There’s also an intelligent tip calculator and currency converter, a Wi-Fi dialer that lets you call any U.S. number, an instant voice translator, a tip calculator, safety tools and much more. A free version includes basic access to all features in every language. Upgrade to a paid version for unlimited access to every feature in the extensive app. 

2. XE Currency — Calculate and convert every world currency in seconds. This is one of the best travel apps for international travel. Monitor up to 10 currencies at a time and easily convert any price into whatever currency you’d like. (This app is free!)

3. MyTSA The MyTSA app provides 24/7 access to the most frequently requested airport security information, right at your fingertips. Save time and money with helpful tips and info you need to know before getting in line at security. (Free.)

4. My Travel Suitcase Want to teach your children how to pack for a family vacation? This is one of the best travel apps for helping you do that and yes, it’s also free!

5. AroundME Quickly find the closest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, grocery store and more with this essential travel app. You’ll see a complete list of all the businesses in the category you select along with your distance from it in this (also free) app.

6. Mobile Passport — Speed through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at 20+ major U.S. airports and 1 U.S. cruise port with this helpful travel app. Officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mobile Passport allows you to submit your passport control and customs declaration through your smartphone and bypass the regular line to enter the United States. (Free.)

7. Visit A City  Get access to 1000+ travel guides, created by experts, that help you explore things to see and do at your destination. With online and offline maps and itineraries tailored to your interests, this is one of the best (free) travel apps out there.  

8. WhatsApp Messenger  Want to talk to friends and family back home without incurring data charges? WhatsApp is one of the best travel apps for sending messages, making phone calls and even holding video chats when you’re traveling. All you need is an Internet or WiFi connection. (Free.)

9. TraffickCam Are you concerned about sex trafficking? This travel app lets you do something about it by taking photos of the hotel rooms you stay in while you travel. It creates a database of hotel room images that investigators can search to identify locations where ongoing investigations are already exploring. TraffickCam is also free.

10. Mom Maps Would you like to find kid-friendly places while you’re traveling? Mom Maps lets you search extensive lists of parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums with reviews from other parents. Bookmark your favorite locations and view videos of some locations. Mom Maps costs $2.99 to download.

11. FlightView Elite — Get real-time flight information about upcoming and in-air flights with this essential travel app. View arrival and departure information for top airports; check gate assignments, delays and cancellations; use the flight map to view a flight’s progress; and more. Forward your itinerary confirmation emails and FlightView will automatically load them into your Trips. See your Trips across mobile devices and receive push notifications for them. View a North American airport delay map with radar weather overlay. If you travel frequently, this could be one of the best travel apps for you. FlightView Elite costs $3.99 to download.

12. Dash MobileDesigned specifically for Travel and Transport corporate clients, Dash Mobile syncs with work trips and allows you to import personal travel itineraries too. Dash Mobile includes local phrases and culture tips alongside travel updates, flight and hotel check-in, and even integrations with services like Lyft, Yelp, and Weather Underground.


Whether you’re traveling near or far, these best travel apps will help you take the stress out, and put more fun in, to your next trip. 

Want help planning your next vacation? Contact one of our experienced travel advisors now. We’d love to help you get the most out of your next trip.

Best All-Inclusive Resorts

June 20, 2019 |

Best All-Inclusive Resorts

The best all-inclusive resorts deliver stress-free vacations in beautiful spots around the world. For one flat rate, all-inclusive vacations typically include food, drink and lodging costs, putting everything you need right at your fingertips without the need to ring up a heap of receipts for your expenses.

Once you’re sold on the idea of all-inclusive travel, the next step is to decide where in the world you want to go. We caught up with two of our experienced travel advisors to pick their brains on the best all-inclusive resorts to visit.


Top Travel Advisors Dish on The Best All Inclusive Resorts

We asked two of our travel advisors who are experienced in helping travelers plan unforgettably satisfying all-inclusive trips to share their thoughts on a few questions commonly asked about the best all-inclusive resorts.

Andrea Kurschinski, who is based in our Ames, IA office says the best all-inclusive resorts have a few things in common. “The best all-inclusive resorts include a few critical features that make it easy to relax and enjoy the all-inclusive experience,” she says. “Those features include restaurants that don’t require reservations; preferred sections that are more quiet and less crowded; and no annoying wristbands.”

Another of our travel advisors, JoAnna Gonseth, who is based in our Omaha, NE office says what’s included in the price tag helps the best all-inclusive resorts stand out. “A luxurious and fun experience in a tropical setting are must-haves with an all-inclusive resort,” she says. “The best resorts for all-inclusive travel include meals (both a la carte and buffet), drinks, entertainment and non-motorized water sports without an additional charge.”


The Best All Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean

According to Kurschinski, the best all-inclusive resorts for the money are in the Riviera Maya. “There are couples resorts with great service and excellent food, and excursions are included in your resort fee,” she says. “They also tend to be more casual, which can be attractive to travelers.”

Gonseth agrees and adds that a few islands stand out as offering more choices than others. “There are great resorts on almost all of the Caribbean Islands, but I would have to say that Jamaica offers some of the best choices,” she says.


Where to Find The Best Adults-Only All Inclusive Resorts

Kurschinski says Couples Negril stands out as an excellent option. Gonseth adds Secrets, Breathless and Excellence Resorts to that list. “They provide a stellar experience and have resorts at locations throughout the Caribbean.”


Some of the Best All Inclusive Resorts for Families

“If you’re looking for a fun, all-inclusive resort that your kids will enjoy,” says Kurschinski, “Beaches Negril and Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda both fit the bill.” Gonseth adds that Grand Velas and Dreams deliver great experiences for families and are worth exploring.

Finding the best all inclusive travel resort for your next trip should be fun. Let our advisors remove all the stress by helping you plan your next trip. Reach out to one of our advisors today to start planning your all-inclusive vacation!

Group Travel Tips — Planning the Perfect Group Trip

June 12, 2019 |

Group Travel Tips — Planning the Perfect Group Trip

What could be more stressful than planning an exotic vacation? Many travelers would say planning a group travel trip to any destination — exotic or otherwise. With the right travel advisor on your side, group travel isn’t stressful — it’s a big party.


Top Group Travel Destinations

Great trips to take with groups can happen almost anywhere. You’re not limited to resorts or renting homes. With a skilled planner on your side, you can make lifetime memories with your family and friends at any of the following destinations.


Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

Go on an adventure to remember exploring the magical landscapes of Iceland. The Golden Circle, Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park and dreamy Blue Lagoon are a few of the sights your group will love seeing.


Montreal, Canada

Montreal, Canada

Feel like heading north without venturing quite so close to the arctic circle? Montreal may be more your style. This charming part of Canada delivers a European vibe without leaving North America. From the history of old Montreal to delectable dining and alluring nightlife, there’s something for everyone in your group to enjoy in Montreal.


Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley, California

Wine tasting, anyone? A popular group travel destination, Napa is ideal for a girls weekend, couples getaway or family reunion. With delicious food, spectacular wine and miles of vineyards, Napa provides a welcome retreat. Riding the Wine Train, taking in the Truffle Festival and taking a crash course in winemaking during Cabernet Season are all possibilities for your group to explore.


Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

If binge-watching Narcos on Netflix has left your group with a lingering desire to take a tour of South America, Cartagena is a compelling option. Enjoy all the excitement without the danger exploring Cartagena’s bustling dining, dancing and coffee offerings. Miles of beaches, as well as heart-pumping activities, await.


Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Nestled in the heartland of America, Nashville is easy to get to and easy to enjoy. Family-friendly with a burgeoning art, food and bar scene to complement its legendary live music fame, Nashville is an excellent destination for group travel, whether your group is adults-only or filled with kids.


Get Help Planning the Perfect Getaway

Skip the haggling over hotels with your friends or fighting over food options with family. Let our experienced advisors help you find the perfect destination for your next group travel vacation.

Travel Tips: How to Go All In on All-Inclusive Travel

June 5, 2019 |

If your idea of a perfect getaway involves relaxing by the beach with a drink in your hand, an all-inclusive vacation may be right for you. Here, we dive into what all-inclusive travel is and travel tips on how to plan your all-inclusive retreat.


What Does All-Inclusive Mean?

Generally speaking, all-inclusive travel means you pay one fee upfront that includes your lodging, drinks and food. These resorts provide luxurious amenities that often include multiple pools, spas and private beaches as well as onsite dining venues.

Your food and drinks — including alcoholic drinks — at these onsite venues are included in the fee you pay upfront to stay at the resort. All-inclusive travel can be a carefree, indulgent way to take a trip. Before you go, however, you should know that not all experiences, dining, drinking or otherwise, are free at an all-inclusive resort.


All-Inclusive Travel Tips

Fantastic experiences such as a chef’s dinner, specialty drinks or drink tastings and spa treatments often come at an additional charge. So, whether you decide to stick to just what’s included in your all-inclusive resort fee, or splurge on a few upgrades while you’re there, you’re sure to have an enjoyable trip.

All-inclusive resorts are not all alike. Two resorts can both sound fantastic yet not deliver the experience you are looking for. Working with an experienced travel advisor can help ensure you get the best resort in the ideal location to suit your travel wants and needs.  

Our advisors make sure you know exactly what’s included, what’s extra and what’s expected from your ideal all-inclusive vacation before you go.


6 Fabulous All-Inclusive Resorts

Since all-inclusive resorts can be family-friendly or adult-only, we break out a few excellent options in each category below.


Family-Friendly Resorts

Majestic Colonial Punta Cana – the beach is walking distance from this family-friendly all-inclusive property. It offers more than 650 suites set in a classic, romantic style with upscale features like jetted tubs and marble bathrooms.

Hyatt Ziva, Cancun – Hyatt has a sister property, also in Cancun for adults-only, the Hyatt Zilara, and both properties offer luxurious beachside resorts with multiple pools, amenities, activities, dining options and spacious suites.

St. James’ Club Morgan Bay, St. Lucia – with 22 acres to explore, there’s something at this all-inclusive resort for every member of your family to enjoy. Four pools, six restaurants, water sports and a decked out kids club are just a few of the highlights.


Adults-Only Resorts

The only thing these all-inclusive resorts are missing is the kids. Relax and unwind or let loose and go wild at these fantastic all-inclusive resorts.

Excellence Playa Mujeres, Cancun – with seven pools, 11 bars and nine dining options, you’re sure to find something tasty to eat and drink at this adults-only all-inclusive resort. There’s a full-service spa onsite along with archery, bike tours, beach volleyball and many other activities.

The Caves, Negril, Jamaica – perched upon the pristine cliffs of Jamaica, The Caves is a stunning all-inclusive resort that will make you feel like you’ve escaped to paradise. Sip rum in a private grotto bar, jump into the Caribbean Sea from jagged outcroppings or relax in your private cottage.

Komandoo Maldives Island Resort, Maldives – if you’ve been dreaming of taking an island retreat in a bungalow style resort, you’ll love this option. Situated on a private island, you’ll enjoy stepping outside your private hut for sushi-making, live music, dancing and powder-white sandy beaches.


Get Help Planning Your All-Inclusive Trip!

Have you been day-dreaming about a resort vacation? Stop dreaming and start doing! Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you plan the perfect getaway. Reach out to us today to start planning your trip!

Exploring Wellness Retreats: 6 Places to Nourish Your Body, Mind and Soul

May 29, 2019 |

Exploring Wellness Retreats: 6 Spots to Nourish Your Body, Mind and Soul

Planning a wellness retreat? You’re not alone. The Global Wellness Institute found wellness tourism reached $639 billion in 2017. That’s a trend we see as well in our work booking amazing vacations and wellness retreats for travelers.

If you’re looking for a place where you can nourish your body, mind and soul, these six spots won’t disappoint.


6 Ideal Locations to Take a Wellness Retreat

A wellness mindset is making its way around the globe. Everywhere, people are looking for a way to unplug, unwind and rejuvenate both body and soul. If you’re like many travelers today, you’re looking for more than a gym or massage; you want a wellness retreat. Here are six excellent locales to enjoy one.


1. COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali

If rafting, yoga, hiking, onsite nutritionists and an Ayurvedic doctor are essential elements you want in a wellness retreat, the COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali won’t disappoint. Musician John Legend and his family took a restorative wellness retreat there and raved.


2. Hotel Joaquin, Laguna Beach, California

Nestled in Shaw’s Cove, Hotel Joaquin is a little piece of historic Europe tucked away in bustling Los Angeles. With 22 rooms, there’s a laid back vibe infused in everything from surfing to private yoga, all of which are offered onsite.


3. Sha Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain

The owner of this wellness retreat designed it to evoke a superyacht, surrounded by nature, docked in the calm shores of the Mediterranean Sea. If total mind and body transformation suits you, you’ll find it at the Sha Wellness Clinic, where you can enjoy acupuncture, vegan cuisine, tai chi, laughter therapy and so much more.


4. Miraval Austin Resort & Spa, Austin, Texas

Overlooking serene Lake Travis, the Miraval Austin Resort & Spa encourages mindfulness, imagination and personal growth. At this intriguing wellness retreat, you can immerse yourself in anything from gratitude to literature.


5. Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico

One of the world’s original wellness retreats, Rancho La Puerta is still one of the best. About an hour south of San Diego, California, this wellness retreat is accessible and yet refreshingly remote. Enjoy detox and cleansing retreats designed to reduce inflammation along with pilates, pickleball and plenty more. One traveler loves it so much she’s been there 39 times and counting.


6. Eaton DC, Washington, D.C.

Is it possible to escape to a wellness retreat in the center of one of the busiest cities in the world? The Eaton DC thinks so. With a mindfulness hub, creative collaboration space, activated charcoal shots and a meditation room inspired by Zen Buddhist temples, you can find your escape right in the heart of the city.

Looking for help planning your ideal wellness retreat? Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you find the perfect spot. Reach out today for more wellness retreat ideas and itineraries.

How to Travel Well: Our Advisors’ Top Wellness Travel Tips

May 22, 2019 |

How to Travel Well: Our Advisors’ Top Wellness Travel Tips

For travel buyers and travelers alike, wellness is a top priority. For many, it’s more important than travel policy or even cost reduction. While wellness travel can be as simple as drinking more water when traveling, it can be as complex as embarking on a wellness retreat featuring restorative activities in exotic locales.

We caught up with Ronna Noah and Sarah Overbergen, two of our travel advisors who specialize in helping clients incorporate wellness into their travel plans for their top tips on wellness travel.


Top Wellness Travel Tips

If you’re interested in making wellness part of your travel plans, these tips from our expert travel advisors will help. Before we dive into the tips however, it’s important to define what wellness travel is.

“Wellness travel is a hot buzzword right now, but to me, it means two different things,” says Ronna Noah. “First, caring for your mind, body and soul when you travel through activities like yoga and eating right. Second, wellness when traveling has a medical element to it. You need to be mindful of medical wellness as well. So, whether that means bringing appropriate medications or visiting the gym, plan for your medical needs while traveling as well.”

Travel and Transport travel advisor Sarah Overbergen has a personal definition of wellness travel and why it’s so important to her. “Wellness travel allows you to escape your day-to-day worries and focus on the parts of life you may be neglecting. It is so easy to get lost in your everyday routine and not realize the effects those routines may have on your mind, body and soul. Wellness travel allows you to release those stressors that you’ve become so accustomed to so that you can return home refreshed and ready to tackle your daily routine with a clear mind, fresh outlook and new ideas on incorporating wellness into your daily life.”

Incorporating wellness into everyday life and travel can be as small or extensive as you want to make it. Ronna says a few helpful wellness travel tips are to eat right while on vacation, work out and get a massage. Sarah adds that it can be whatever you want to make it, saying, “wellness can be incorporated into every trip by scheduling time to do something for yourself. That might be a spa treatment, yoga class or taking an hour to find a quiet spot to relax or meditate.”

For travelers who hit the road frequently for business, being able to stay at properties with fitness facilities or spas can be convenient ways for companies to help their road warriors travel well and make wellness part of their travel routine.


A Few Wellness Travel Destinations Our Advisors Recommend

Whether it’s adventure wellness travel trips or wellness retreats, the options are abundant. Ronna recommends Eden Roc Cap Cana, which she visited personally. “The units are beautiful and very private,” she says. “It would make a fantastic wellness travel destination for anyone!”

Sarah says a Wellness Tour with G Adventures would help her escape the hecticness of her everyday life. “They offer many tours, but the one that interests me the most is their Bali Tour, which includes rejuvenating experiences like sunrise yoga, traditional healing ceremonies, snorkeling on Menjangan Island and hiking Munduk Waterfall. These adventure activities mixed with calming yoga and downtime sounds like the perfect mix for a busy lifestyle.”

Are you planning a wellness adventure? Our travel advisors are here to help! Reach out now for more wellness travel tips!

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

May 16, 2019 |

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

A spa trip can be a wonderful way to celebrate the sacred bond between a mother and her daughter. If you’re looking for a spa where you can make lifelong memories with your mother or daughter, these top six spas will knock your socks off.


6 Great Spa Trip Destinations for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Many spas today offer mother-daughter packages, making them a popular choice for both spa trips and mother-daughter getaways. A spa trip has become a rite of passage for many young women today and these six destinations provide a memorable experience mothers and daughters can cherish.


1. Orlando, Florida.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Orlando is brimming with charming resorts and unforgettable properties. Whether you opt for an iconic hotel like the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World Resort, or an upscale spa at a lakeside retreat, you’ll enjoy making magical memories together in this enchanting city.


2. Ontario, Canada.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Take a trek up north to enjoy a mud masque, canoeing and yoga at a spa in Ontario. With an international flair, there’s much for moms and daughters to explore together in this intriguing city.


3. Cancun, Mexico.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

This beautiful city might not be the first place that springs to mind for a mother and daughter spa trip, but there are delightful resorts in Cancun that provide plenty of sand, sunshine, and relaxation without the drama of a spring break party. It’s an ideal setting for mothers and daughters to enjoy a restorative retreat together.


4. St. Augustine, Florida.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Explore America’s oldest continuously settled city in style with a mother-daughter spa trip. A warm climate and alluring hotels offer the ideal location for a mother-daughter getaway.


5. Charleston, South Carolina.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Brimming with history and southern charm, Charleston is a great getaway destination for a mother-daughter spa trip. Hotels in the area offer girls getaway packages from time to time that can help you make the most of your spa trip.


6. Tucson, Arizona.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Most often cited for its luxurious golf resorts, Tucson provides the perfect backdrop for a mother-daughter spa trip. Soak in the sunshine together and treat yourself in this easy-to-access destination.


Need help planning your mother-daughter spa trip? Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you put together the trip of a lifetime. Reach out to us today for help turning your mother-daughter getaway into a reality.

Tips for business travel in India

May 15, 2019 |

If your company does international business and has a global travel strategy, you have likely had to spend some time adjusting to various countries’ business norms. Here are some tips for business travel in India – pass them along to employees to ensure they have successful and productive business trips.

Visa and passport requirements for entry into India

In most cases, you’ll need a visa and valid passport to enter India. Here are India entry requirements for travelers from the U.S. and you can find information for U.K. travelers here.

What vaccinations do I need for business travel to India?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all travelers have the following vaccines:

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • Polio vaccine
  • Annual flu shot

Additional vaccines are recommended for some travelers, which can be found on the CDC website. This includes a possible regimen of prescription medication for malaria prevention, which is taken before, during and after the trip.

For even more information, see this article entitled “What vaccines and immunizations do you need for global travel?” from our partners at WorldAware:

Risks Associated with Vaccine-Preventable Diseases While Traveling     What vaccines and immunizations do you need for global travel? - WorldAware

Should you drink the water in India?

Yes, it’s very important to stay hydrated in a hot country such as India. Just be careful about the water you drink. This also includes ice! Only drink bottled water and check to be sure that the cap is sealed. Don’t forget the bottled water when brushing your teeth as well. If you’re not sure whether the drink you’ve received contains safe, filtered or bottled water, you may want to avoid it. Hot drinks like coffee and tea should be ok too.

Food safety in India

One of the biggest concerns people have while traveling in India is exposure to new bacteria that causes stomach cramping and other unpleasant symptoms. Here are a few quick tips to stay healthy while dining during your business travel:

  • Do not eat fruit that you have not peeled yourself.
  • Only eat foods that are served very hot and cooked all the way through.
  • Eat at busy places that your Indian business partners recommend for your safest options.


Shaking hands isn’t traditionally a part of Indian culture, although businesspeople in Mumbai and other big cities might initiate hand-shaking to accommodate you. A standard greeting is a “Namaste,” during which you press your palms together just below your chin as if you’re praying, and bow slightly or nod. This is a safe greeting to use in any situation.

Make sure to first greet the most senior individual in the group, using his or her title. If you don’t know the title or the person doesn’t have one, use “Madam” or “Sir.” Always avoid calling people by their first names, unless asked to do so.

Gifts are often a part of first meetings, as many Indians believe they help one on their bath in the next life. Gifts don’t have to be expensive. Present them with both hands to the receiver. If you receive a gift, wait until later to open it. Additionally, present your business card upon first meeting.

In meetings

Developing good, trustworthy relationships is paramount when doing business in India.

Unless you’re meeting with a very young start-up, engineering or tech crowd, it’s important to dress very formally and conservatively in meetings. Be patient and avoid high-pressure strategies when in negotiation meetings. Be mindful that sometimes “yes” actually means “I’ve heard and understood what you’re saying,” not “I agree with you.” Pay attention to phrases like “I will try” or “Possibly.”

Don’t plan for more than one meeting per day. Often, meetings end with the expectation of drinks and a meal together, rather than one party rushing off for more business.

At dinner

Here are some tips surrounding culinary manners in India so you can successfully navigate the business dinner:

  • Don’t seat yourself at dinner; rather, wait for someone to indicate where you should sit.
  • Watch how others eat. In the city, you’ll likely be given a fork and spoon and use the fork to push food onto the spoon. In the country, you’re more likely to eat with your hands, using bread or rice to pick up the food.
  • Leave a little food on your plate – this indicates that you are full. A clean plate means you are still hungry.

Happy traveling!

Top 5 Wellness Travel Adventure Ideas

May 8, 2019 |

Top 5 Wellness Travel Vacations

Wellness travel is becoming the new adventure travel. What began as a trip to the spa, an on-property juice bar or an amped up gym has evolved into off-property wellness travel adventures.


What is Wellness Travel?

Technically speaking, wellness travel is defined as travel that allows the traveler to maintain, enhance or kick-start a healthy lifestyle, and support or increase one’s sense of wellbeing. That can be as simple as following popular wellness travel tips like drinking more water, exercising daily, getting enough sleep and making healthy dining choices while on the road.

According to the Global Wellness Summit, wellness travel is evolving into more of a ‘wellness retreat’ experience where travelers immerse themselves in a wellness saga playing the hero or explorer on an adventure. In these wellness adventures, travelers can embark on a nature hike at sunrise, enjoy meditation in a treehouse and soak in hours of spa treatments on rugged cliffs overlooking stunning sea views.

If that idea of wellness travel appeals to you, here are some of the top wellness travel activities to consider for your next travel adventure.


Top 5 Wellness Travel Vacations

When you’re trying to decide on a destination for wellness travel, a helpful place to start can be with a restorative activity you enjoy. These five wellness travel ideas will help you think through what wellness travel means to you.


1. Go Hiking.

Top 5 Wellness Travel Vacations

Many people enjoy hiking as a healthy way to relieve stress, connect with nature and clear the mind. While you could trek through a trail in your hometown, a hiking retreat through Moab in Utah, or across the rugged landscape of Iceland, the lush hillsides of Hawaii or the tropical trails of the Caribbean can be an excellent way to explore the world while incorporating wellness into your trip.


2. Take a Wellness Cruise.

Wellness Cruise

Cruising isn’t typically associated with wellness travel, but it’s beginning to as cruise lines develop wellness cruises. Blue World Voyages and others offer cruises that put yoga, healthy food and active excursions front and center.


3. Stretch Yourself on a Yoga Retreat.

Yoga Retreat

Put your mind, body and soul first on a yoga retreat. Costa Rica, Bali, Bhutan, Portugal and Peru are just a few of the destinations featuring yoga retreats. Learn a few new moves while enlightening yourself about the local culture on this wellness travel idea.


4. Hit the Road on a Cycling Trip.

Cycling Trip

If running is too hard on your joints and yoga isn’t your thing, consider a cycling adventure. Bike your way along the California coast or tour more exotic trails in France or New Zealand.


5. Escape the Workweek with a Weekend Wellness Getaway.

Spa Trip

If the idea of a week-long wellness travel trip sounds a bit too ambitious, dip your toes in the water of wellness travel with a weekend wellness getaway. Yosemite National Park in California, Los Cabos in Mexico or Scottsdale, Arizona are all popular destinations for weekend wellness getaways. Sip wine while painting, explore nature on a hike, engage in guided meditation or suit up for a sunset yoga class.


Need help planning your wellness travel trip? Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you create a relaxing, restorative getaway that satisfies your desire for wellness travel. Contact us today for help planning your next adventure!

An African Safari Adventure – Lions, Wildebeests and Giraffes, Oh My!

May 1, 2019 |

An African Safari Adventure – Lions, Wildebeests and Giraffes, Oh My!

Exhilarating, exciting, unexpected… And yes, peaceful. All words Michelle Holmes used to describe her tour of Africa. (Which included getting within 18 inches of a leopard while bouncing down a ravine in a Jeep. Peaceful, indeed!)

Holmes, Senior Director of Loyalty & Leisure at Travel and Transport, took a two-week Micato African safari to Kenya and Tanzania and found adventure travel in Africa to be quite amazing. With local, knowledgeable guides, Holmes traveled by plane, hot air balloon and truck to visit Aboseli National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Massai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park.

Each stop on this unforgettable African safari brought its own character—new ecosystems, animals, campsites and adventures.

Making Unforgettable Memories is Easy on an African Safari

Safari-goers get up close and personal with the animals.Each overnight site has its own vibe, from magnificent gardens at the Hemingway Nairobi to the unparalleled views of Larsens Camp in Samburu. The African safari party got up close and personal with dozens of different species.

Holmes laughs as she remembers resting outside while watching the animals drink at a nearby river, only to wake as her husband shooed away the baboon that had wandered over to her chair for a visit.

Within each reserve, truck drivers communicate over two-way radios they locate the animals. The experience is highly personalized, as the drivers focus on finding animals that safari-goers haven’t yet encountered.

Hearing about a nearby pride of lions, including some cubs—a slightly more difficult item to cross off the African safari bingo card—Holmes’ truck raced to the scene only to find fifteen trucks already there. Luckily, this part of her adventure travel in Africa wasn’t ruined as the mother lion didn’t seem disturbed by the attention. The appearance of safari trucks is an everyday occurrence in her life.

The safari animals didn't appear particularly disturbed by the safari vehicles.Holmes, however, rarely felt the presence of other safari parties. Partly due to her decision to travel in the low season, the lack of other tourists led Holmes to develop a heightened sense of the vastness of Africa, both as a continent and as a phenomenal location for adventure travel overseas.

Adventure Travel in Africa Offers Opportunity for Rare Animal Sightings

Despite all the wonderful animals — the rare Rothschild giraffes, forgetful warthogs, wildebeests, red dust-covered elephants, grinning hyenas, Cape buffalo, baby lions and more — Holmes says her experience on her African safari was “all about the people and the culture.” Micato Safari profits benefit local communities. Safari-goers have the wonderful opportunity to participate in this giving-back first-hand by visiting a Massai village, schools and community centers.

Among her remarkable experiences, Holmes and her safari group visited a Micato-built community center in a crowded, run-down and impoverished area of Nairobi. Browsing the books of the community library, Holmes came across a compilation of inspirational images and messages from people all over the world.

Michelle Holmes holds a book displaying her rainbow drawing from four years earlier.Leafing through the book, she realized that the images were familiar. Four years prior, at a conference of travel and leisure specialists, Holmes drew a rainbow, accompanied with an inspirational message at a session. She knew her picture and words were going to Africa, but she had no idea that, in a community center in Nairobi, she would open the book to the rainbow she’d drawn years ago.

Holmes praised the Micato employees at every location. From locals hired to use their sling shots to keep monkeys from stealing their food to the knowledgeable guides, she felt their experience enhanced hers. After asking if he ever got tired of doing the same African safari, one guide said, “No, we see it different every time because we see it through the eyes of our clients. We see their sense of awe.”

After exploring four preserves Holmes maintained her sense of awe at the grandeur of African nature. She’s planning her return already, saying the following phrase is true, “You can leave Africa, but Africa never leaves you.”

For more stunning images of Holmes’ adventure travel in Africa and great photos from our employee-owners, check out our Instagram.

If you’re thinking about planning your own African safari, our experts at Travel and Transport are ready to assist. Call one of our vacation travel advisors to explore your options.

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

April 24, 2019 |

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

Do you want to explore adventure travel overseas in Asia that doesn’t include a hike up Mt. Everest? If so, we have five hidden gems in Asia where overseas adventure travel seekers can make unforgettable memories.


Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Must-See Stops in Asia

From riding raging rapids and climbing swirling rock faces to swimming with sharks and kayaking through hidden caves, Asia offers plenty of thrilling opportunities for adventure travel. Get your heart racing with these five surefire itineraries for adventure travel in Asia.


1. Kayak Through Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

Explore the caves that dot Ha Long Bay in this overseas adventure travel trip. While you’re there, paddle into shore for some rock climbing on Cat Ba’s stunning limestone cliffs.


2. Go River Rafting Along the Ayung River in Bali

There are more than 10 kilometers of rapids to explore in this picturesque Indonesian city. At the end of your thrilling ride through countryside villages and rice fields, you’ll get a workout climbing up the canyon through which you just sailed.


3. Go Rock Climbing in Railay

World famous rock climbing awaits adventure travel seekers in Krabi, Thailand. White sandy beaches and turquoise waters give way to rock faces featuring challenges for climbers of all skill levels.


4. Scuba Dive in Malapasuca, Philippines

If your idea of adventure travel overseas wouldn’t be complete without scuba diving or snorkeling of some sort, consider making Malapasuca in the Philippines one of the stops on your adventure travel itinerary. After going on a thresher shark dive, make your way to Moalboal and the Apo Reef for unforgettable underwater adventures.


5. Hike a Volcano in Malaysia

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

Mount Kinabalau is waiting to be traversed in Malaysian Borneo. On this overseas adventure travel stop, you’ll take in two days of stunning views and breathtaking landscapes.


Not sure where to start?

Picking where to adventure travel overseas is fun; planning out all the details can be challenging. For help arranging your ideal itinerary, connect with one of our experienced travel advisors. We would love to help you map out the adventure travel trip of a lifetime!

Planning an Adventure Travel Trip? Our Expert Advice

April 17, 2019 |

How to Plan an Adventure Travel Trip

Our adventure travel specialists are here to help.

If you’re new to adventure travel or are considering planning your first adventure travel trip, you probably have a lot of questions, like: should I join an adventure travel program or strike out on my own? Where are the best adventure travel locations for first timers? What about insurance?

We have answers! We caught up with our adventure travel specialists Lisa Salloum (Urbandale, Iowa office), JoAnna Gonseth (Omaha, Nebraska HQ), and Wanda Worsley (Travel Design Lounge in Omaha) for answers to the most common questions about adventure travel.


Where are the best places to go for adventure travel?

While any location can be a great place for adventure, JoAnna says off the beaten path destinations seem to have more adventures to offer for avid adventure travelers. Lisa notes Africa and Iceland as destinations seeing a lot of traffic in 2019 and Wanda adds Costa Rica, New Zealand and Peru to that list.


When is the best time to book an adventure travel trip?

While any time is a good time for adventure travel, for those who like to plan, Lisa says getting your trip nailed down a year in advance prevents you from missing out on spaces that fill up fast.


Should I tackle adventure travel on my own or as part of a group?

The answer to this question really depends on your preferences and budget, yet JoAnna adds that group travel may be safer. “Activities like hiking or climbing are not recommended to be done alone,” she says.

Wanda notes that group travel offers extra support as well. “In addition to sharing an amazing experience with equally enthusiastic travelers, group adventure trips are a great way to learn of other destinations that fellow travelers have visited that would fit your interests.”


What adventure travel gear do I need to make my trip comfortable?

Wanda mentions that specialized gear is often provided when booking an adventure travel trip with travel partners, and Lisa recommends talking with one of our travel advisors. “Depending on the travel booked, we will provide the information,” she says. “Our destination experts are wonderful for providing suggestions.”


Do I need to purchase adventure travel insurance?

While the answer depends on the activities you are doing, Lisa recommends always getting travel insurance to protect your vacation investment from the unexpected and JoAnna adds that sometimes, specific insurance is necessary. “In some cases, you will need additional insurance to cover an extreme sport such as mountain climbing or a hot air balloon ride,” she says. “Otherwise, typical Travel insurance will cover most activities.”


What must I make sure to include on my adventure travel packing list?

While the list could become lengthy, Wanda limits essential to just a few items. “Pack sunscreen and clothing that allows you to layer based on the weather or altitude conditions.”

JoAnna adds a GoPro to the packing list as a “must for any adventure experience.”


Is adventure travel with a baby possible?

Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on the activities and recommendations of your pediatrician, so be sure to check with your child’s doctor. Beyond that, Lisa says some tour operators have age restrictions. “This might be a good time to have the little one spend some time with their grandparents for you to be able to experience the trip to its fullest.”

JoAnna says bringing a baby along could work, depending on the type of adventure travel you plan. “If the traveler is used to carrying packs while hiking, for example, then carrying a child would be one in the same and the trip will work out for everyone,” she says. “While children may get restless in a long car ride, they may have a different experience hiking in the outdoors and being able to move freely.”


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